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Discussion of Career Development Stages

In recent years, the autonomous career development of each individual has been attracting attention in the United States, but this was not the case before. American companies used to manage employee careers uniformly according to age and year of employment, assuming they all have similar needs. However, according to Super (1980), career development is a lifetime process which goes through five stages such as growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance, and decline (Super, 1980). Understanding the tasks expected of each stage is of great significance to human resource managers. It is the purpose of the paper to describe the five phases of Super’s theory of career development and reveal the major tasks occurring at each stage.

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Growth stage is the initial phase that occurs from birth to the age of fourteen. It is a phase characterized by cognitive development, which develops based on perceptual experience. If a student sees a teacher and likes what he or she is doing, they will start associating with the teaching profession and may plan to venture into the field in future. In most cases, children are inspired by what they see, feel, or hear. Stojans close contact with his father enabled Stojan to develop self-concept of becoming a policeman (Lim, 2013). Therefore, in the first career development stage, a person gets inspiration from those around them.

The second stage in the Super’s theory of career development process is exploration. This phase takes place between the age of fifteen and twenty-four. It occurs when a person is exposed to more experience and alternative. After self-exploration, Stojan followed his earlier decision to become a policeperson. Still, after some years, he had an idea of occupational information and decided to seek an alternative career choice to move to Canada (Lim, 2013). At this stage, a person may either follow initial aspiration or choose another career.

After settling on a given career, the person can advance to the next stage called maintenance. During this period, the performance may increase, decrease, or remain constant. During maintenance phase, Stojan improved his work while in Canada, progressing from a waiter to assistant painter and later opening his painting business (Lim, 2013). The success of maintenance course depends on the quality of decision made during exploration.

At the peak of career development is decline stage. This is where the individual retires from working after attaining the age of 65 and above. Career development at the end of work life requires the creation of new values and external careers such as job titles and salaries. After starting his painting business, Stojan was happy and creative and spent more time with his family (Hartung, 2013). The quality of decline stage depends on how a person spends the rest of their life. Regrets come mostly when a person wasted his or her you career development time by choosing less valuable career.

My career path almost resembles Stojan’s because what I am currently pursuing is a career I was inspired by a neighbor who was a teacher. When I was a teenager, I used to admire how teachers confidently relay knowledge to learners. During that stage, I vowed to be a high school teacher one day. However, as I grew and got more exposure, I realized that my grades could make me a lecturer. I started exploring existing alternatives. I discovered that although a lecturer teaches like a teacher, the salary for lecturing is relatively high.


Hartung, P. J. (2013). The life-span, life-space theory of careers. Career Development and Counseling: Putting Theory and Research to Work, 2, 83-113.

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Lim, Sandra. (2013). Case study: super’s late adolescent and adult career development. Web.

Super, D. E. (1980). A life-span, life-space approach to career development. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 16(3), 282-298.

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